How long does it take for a young defenseman to play at sea level in the NHL? How long before a team can count on him to throw away the training wheels, to stop making the sins of youth, to deliver consistently? Answer: a pretty long damn time.  


Corsi On and rank by year

  • 2007-08 -10.75 (7th and last on team, also ruined Staios’ number)
  • 2008-09 -13.41 (6th and second last on team)
  • 2009-10 -8.95 (4th on the team)
  • 2010-11 -6.03 (4th on the team)
  • 2011-12 -5.60 (4th on the team)
  • 2012-13 -13.27 (6th on the team)

Where would you say the light went on? I’d say year three, he was in the top 4 and delivering consistent results on the team. Smid’s time in Edmonton happened during a real downturn in quality, but I think we can all agree he was among the top four defensemen on the team from 2009-14 without much argument. I’d suggest that if we use 200 NHL games (2.5 seasons) as a "line in the sand" we can get an idea about how long it takes for defensemen to contribute, and how long it will be until any of the kids can be counted on for quality play in the NHL. 


Here are the current and future Oilers defensemen regarded as being possible options, and their total games played in the NHL:

  1. Jeff Petry (200!!!!)
  2. Justin Schultz (86)
  3. Anton Belov (38)
  4. Martin Marincin (8)
  5. Taylor Fedun (4)
  6. Brad Hunt (3)
  7. Darnell Nurse (0)
  8. Oscar Klefbom (0)
  9. Martin Gernat (0)
  10. Brandon Davidson (0)

I think we can agree that Schultz the younger has some way to go, and certainly everyone below Justin Schultz lacks experience, and is unlikely to be a useful plug and play next season. 


NHL defensemen—the good ones—usually spent much of their 20’s and 30’s delivering consistently. The 1,000 game mark is a great sign of usefulness and durability, and represents a quality NHL career. It also indicates the end of the line is near, as Jason Smith (1008 career games) showed in his career. Edmonton traded Smith after a season in which he struggled, and he had been in the NHL for about 850 games by the time they sent him away. 

  1. Nick Schultz (855)
  2. Andrew Ference (806)

I think it’s reasonable to suggest both veterans are less than 3 seasons away from the end of the line, and may now be outside their productive era as NHL defenders. It happens, no sin in that, but it does suck to be holding the bag. 


If all this theory is true, the ideal NHL defenseman has played more than 200 NHL games and less than 850.  Here is the list of Oilers current defensemen who are in the range:

  1. Jeff Petry, later tonight 


There’s no substitute for experience. 

I think Jeff Petry is going to have a long and productive NHL career, but he’d be playing better if Ladislav Smid and Tom Gilbert were in Edmonton to play defense tonight. The Oilers are too young at one end and too tired at the other. 

The results are predictable, and no rookie can help that situation. The Edmonton Oilers need actual NHL defensemen with experience, and that’s where they should spend this year’s first round pick. Trade for an experienced defenseman. 


    • misfit

      Is this the same talk that the Oilers have been saying the last 3 yrs.? The Oilers can get any worse than last place & with this yr’s team is one of the worst & that’s saying alot. Petry has been awful & not getting better, so there are 3 things the Oilers must do. Trade him, send him down to the minors or release him. The Oilers have to rid the team from this guy!!

  • ToppsSmith

    Petrys game has regressed this year… is it him, the system or possibly the fact that he cannot handle play beyond 20 minutes per game.

    One thing for sure Eakins system will not allow for D men to jump into the play.. look at the almost zero scoring from the backend.

    PS. The SWARM, is not working in the Toronto either.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    You can make stats do what you want. But the bottom line is this has been the worst team in the NHL for the last 8 years.

    How are those advanced stats working for you?

    • Some people choose to try to understand the success/failure of their team by looking at things like which players help their team get more shots for and less shots against when they are on the ice.

      Some other people choose to make monthly goat sacrifices.

      You can choose to do one or the other. But never think that they are equal in letting you understand the game of hockey.

      • S cottV

        Absolutely agree with Buttons.

        If MacT survives, which he probably will – we all might as well let him off the hook on the bold moves thing and let him gear to be a playoff contender by 2017, as long as the trending turns positive.

  • What kind of defenceman can be had for a top 5 pick?

    Let me re-state that question: What defencemen have have in the past been traded for a top 5 pick?

    I’m going to try half-assed to have a look, but if any of you know and can link PLEASE help us out here.

    • Ok I’ve spent 3/4 of an hour doing my half-assed search and have come to several conclusions:

      1. Man, research is hard.

      2. I am lazy.

      3. A lot of great D don’t come from top 5 picks.

      4. If you can trade a maybe for a definite….

      DO IT.

      • pkam

        What does a definite… mean? Does a definite 3rd pairing defenseman count? How about a 2nd pairing defenseman? Or just top pairing defenseman?

        I agree with you conclusion #3. Among all NHL defensmen, Chara, Keith, and Weber are the top 3 and none of them are even 1st rounder. And I believe 5 of the 8 defensemen in Team Canada are not top 5 picks, only the pair from the Blues and Doughty are.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    With regards to Smid, perhaps we do have an abundance of prospects that play with a similar game and style to his. Then again, when you put our inexperience so plainly on paper, we’re pretty emeciated. Why a trade right now? Why not at the deadline or this summer?

    I can’t stop laughing at the gif though. It’s like our whole season in 5 seconds.


      Easy. Brossoit.

      If you look at the Oilers 3 years from now, our defence is decent. Our forwards, pretty decent. Goaltending? Terrible.

      Although it seems weird to trade a serviceable NHL defenceman off of this team at this stage of the game, it’s what needed to happen to get Brossoit. In 3 or so years when he’s getting starts and amazing us all, we’ll laugh that it only took Smid to get him from the Flames.

      Speaking of the Flames, how they doing down there? Don’t think Ladi’s the ‘truculent’ difference maker Burkie expected him to be.

      • ToppsSmith

        Seemed like Smid was vastly overpaid for his services , and was let go cheaply . He is not performing much better with Flames either . Gagner could be going same route if his performances do not pick up .